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Eat, drink and live

What’s all the fuss about cholesterol? Constructing Better Health chief executive Michelle Aldous takes us through the good, the bad and the ugly of this important issue.

Cholesterol is a waxy substance made in the body by the liver. It protects nerves, makes new cell tissue and produces certain hormones.

Cholesterol is fatty in nature, which means it is insoluble in water. In order to be transported through the body’s blood vessels, it requires the help of protein “suitcases” called lipoproteins, the majority of which come in two forms: low density and high density.

High cholesterol levels in blood lead to atherosclerosis - a build-up of fatty deposits inside the blood vessels, which means blood cannot get through, leading to heart attacks, stroke and peripheral vascular disease

High blood pressure

If your cholesterol level is in the “high” category, and you have high blood pressure, your risk of coronary heart disease increases more than six fold. If you also smoke, the risk increases almost 20 times.

High density lipoproteins (HDL) essentially remove cholesterol from the blood and carry it back to the liver, preventing accumulation of cholesterol in the blood, and are therefore referred to as good cholesterols.

Low density lipoproteins (LDL) do exactly the opposite; they deliver more cholesterol to the body, adding to cholesterol build-up in the blood vessels, and are called bad cholesterols.

Triglycerides, the major component in very low density lipoproteins (VLDL), gets the tag of ugly cholesterol because VLDL gets converted into LDL in the bloodstream, adding to the circulating bad cholesterol.

How to cut cholestrol? A high fibre diet helps keep cholesterol levels normal. Eat whole wheat bread, oatmeal, whole grain cereals, raw fruit, vegetables and salads. These bind to the bile acids that contain cholesterol before it reaches your blood, flushing this cholesterol from the body without letting it get into the bloodstream. Eat pulses and lentils. Avoid junk food and processed foods as these are rich in transfats and increase your bad cholesterol.

Avoid red meat,and eat food cooked in heart-healthy oil from plant sources like sunflower, flaxseed and linseed. Drink skimmed milk and avoid desserts, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.

Win a Mini and get healthy

Time is running out for the chance to win a Mini Cooper, the star prize of the Polypipe Run.

The entry deadline is 21 March, so visit www.polypipewms.co.uk/heart to buy your ticket and raise money for the British Heart Foundation. You can also enter the monthly spa break draw. In January the prize was won by Heather Pike of Buro Happold and this month’s winner is Kiernan Construction project manager John Kiernan.

Burdens backs NCE/Polypipe health campaign

Materials supplier Burdens is getting behind the NCE/Polypipe/Constructing Better Health Heart Health campaign by hosting the Polypipe Run roadshow over the next month.

Employees and customers will get free information about heart health, as well as a healthy breakfast and a chance to take part in a kicking competition using a Rigidstorm-XL pipe as a goal.
Constructing Better Health will be on hand to do free blood pressure tests and to give advice.
Burden’s support culminates at its annual North West charity dinner on 4 March, when the Polypipe Run will be part of the entertainment at a gala night at Manchester United football ground in aid of the British Heart Foundation.
Top of the bill is Norman Whiteside, the former Manchester United, Everton and Northern Ireland striker turned podiatrist. The Belfast-born forward was the Wayne Rooney of his day, before injury ended his playing days at the age of 26.
Guests will also be able to tour the ground, and visit the club’s museum.
Those attending the dinner can test their own football skills by scoring goals into a Polypipe Ridgistorm-XL pipe - which is harder than it looks, as those who had a go at the Infrastructure Show will testify. Prizes will be awarded on the night, including an iPod Touch for the winner and £50 and £25 John Lewis vouchers for the runners up.
A charity auction will also be held at the event, with the opportunity to win fantastic prizes, including signed football memorabilia and a weekend break.
Tables for 10 people are available for £1,200 with funds raised going to the British Heart Foundation. To book a table, or for further information, please contact Rachel.smith@polypipe.com or mark.whittaker@burdens.co.uk.

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